The Professional Lives of Reading Teachers in Non-metropolitan School Districts

  • Author / Creator
    Reston, Mary Jean

    Research suggests that highly qualified teachers are an important factor in improving the reading performance of children.  This study began with a question about how teachers with a reading specialization used their expertise to advance the quality of instruction in non-metropolitan schools and school jurisdictions.  Very little research on the roles of reading specialists in Canadian learning environments is available.  This qualitative study sought to give a voice to the experiences of three teachers who first became reading specialists because they wanted to be better at helping struggling readers. They then became teacher leaders, guiding other teachers in their schools and districts to provide quality reading instruction for students.  Through multiple, extensive interviews with the three participants, I learned the stories of how they became engaged in advanced study of reading, what they were able to contribute to reading instruction and literacy education in their schools and regions, and what sorts of collegial experiences the reading teacher leadership had afforded them.
    When analyzed, the data revealed teachers who, throughout their careers, consistently sought ways to make literacy learning more relevant and more successful, who were eager to share their knowledge with other teachers, who were passionate about the work they did, and who were ultimately disappointed.  The disappointment was precipitated by the realization that no matter what productive work the reading specialists were engaged in, district administrators placed limited value on teacher expertise. As a result, the non-urban school districts that traditionally had few teachers with specializations in any subject area, were prematurely stripped of their valuable teacher resources when, in reaction to their treatment, the study participants retired or left the district. 

    In order to promote lasting, quality academic improvement among students, school district administrators need to formally recognize, through policy, that the best performance from students comes from classrooms with the best educated teachers, and thus encourage more teachers to pursue studies beyond a basic teacher education.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2009
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Education
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Marilyn Chapman, Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia
    • Dr. Rosemary Foster, Education Policy Studies
    • Dr. William Dunn, Secondary Education
    • Dr. Katherine Willson, Elementary Education
    • Dr. Carol Leroy, Elementary Education